Tempo in Cello Suites

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Nick Trapani
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Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by Nick Trapani » Fri Sep 28, 2018 4:46 pm

This is a wonderful thread, who are some of your favorite Cellists?

RobMacKillop
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Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by RobMacKillop » Fri Sep 28, 2018 5:25 pm

What makes you all think Bach wrote his cello suites for a cello? Apparently not. According to a growing number of specialists he wrote them for the Violoncello Da Spalla:


RobMacKillop
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Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by RobMacKillop » Fri Sep 28, 2018 5:26 pm


Conall
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Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by Conall » Fri Sep 28, 2018 6:19 pm

Well apparently the last 2 suites were definitely not for 4 string cello at least. But the Da Spalla is new to me, thanks Rob!

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:03 pm

RobMacKillop wrote:What makes you all think Bach wrote his cello suites for a cello? Apparently not. According to a growing number of specialists he wrote them for the Violoncello Da Spalla.
I have researched this before, prompted by a brilliant performance of Suite 6 by a Japanese player at the National Centre for Early Music - put briefly:

Some persuasive argument has been made partuclarly in regard to the indeterminate language used to describe bowed instruments during the baroque period; "da spalla" refers to the technique, not the instrument so the claim is that composers simply left that bit off when indicating instrumentation.

Bach however is pretty clear in his indications - for instance, Cantatas, 6, 41, 49, 68, 85, 115, and 175 all call for the violoncello piccolo. Interestingly, some of these parts were notated using the treble "G" clef - played by violinists rather than cellists.

The title pages of the early manuscripts of the cello suites give us:

Source A: "6 Suites a Violoncello Solo senza Basso"
Source B: "Sechs Suonaten pour le Viola de Basso"
Source C: Suiten und Preluden für der Violoncello"
Source D: "6 Suite a Violoncello Solo"

It has long been thought that suite 6 may have been intended for the violoncello piccolo although Anna Magdalena simply writes, "a cinque cordes" (a term never used by Bach); a couple of such instruments are listed in the inventory of Bach's belongings but otherwise evidence is pretty much circumstantial. There's certainly a chance that old Johnny used such an instrument in writing the suites of course - as a violinist it could have suited him much better than working with an actual cello. Against that idea we have Johann Christian describing his father composing away from any instrument.

For anyone interested in learning more Dmitry Badiarov (violin maker) has brought together a fair bit of information on nomenclature, surviving instruments etc. which will lead you to further sources.

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Mark Clifton-Gaultier
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Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Fri Sep 28, 2018 7:05 pm

Conall wrote:Well apparently the last 2 suites were definitely not for 4 string cello ...
The last two?

Conall
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Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by Conall » Fri Sep 28, 2018 8:04 pm

Ah sorry Mark - I knew both last ones were different but forgotten how. The 5th asks for scordatura not 5 strings does it not?
.....must try to remember to double check my facts next time!

ddray
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Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by ddray » Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:59 pm

Nick Trapani wrote:
Fri Sep 28, 2018 4:46 pm
This is a wonderful thread, who are some of your favorite Cellists?
As far as the suites are concerned, in order of preference: Fournier, Rostropovich, Yo-Yo Ma. Fournier's performing edition is also worth looking at; he gives the fifth suite in standard tuning and not scordatura. It makes it a bit easier to read but also sacrifices some of the fullness of the chords.

prawnheed

Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by prawnheed » Sat Sep 29, 2018 1:24 am

I’ve said this before, but I cannot stop myself from saying again how much I like these pieces played on the cello (whichever form) and how unsatisfying I find them for guitar. Beautiful rich textures vs plinky plonky.

ddray
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Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by ddray » Sat Sep 29, 2018 2:07 am

prawnheed wrote:
Sat Sep 29, 2018 1:24 am
I’ve said this before, but I cannot stop myself from saying again how much I like these pieces played on the cello (whichever form) and how unsatisfying I find them for guitar. Beautiful rich textures vs plinky plonky.
I'd have to agree for the most part. I think the so-called lute pieces (including Bach's own transcription of the fifth suite) are much more suitable for guitar.
Some lines that sound lush and resonant on the cello just sound too thin on the guitar imo. Thus arrangers have to fill in the gaps. All of which is not to say that the guitar doesn't have its own strenghts. The added depth and resonance of extended-range guitars can certainly improve the situation.

Conall
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Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by Conall » Sat Sep 29, 2018 8:07 am

ddray wrote:
Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:59 pm
Nick Trapani wrote:
Fri Sep 28, 2018 4:46 pm
This is a wonderful thread, who are some of your favorite Cellists?
As far as the suites are concerned, in order of preference: Fournier, Rostropovich, Yo-Yo Ma. Fournier's performing edition is also worth looking at; he gives the fifth suite in standard tuning and not scordatura. It makes it a bit easier to read but also sacrifices some of the fullness of the chords.
There are free pdf editions on the internet in standard tuning too which I use.
I find the tenor clef of the last suite annoying too but I guess it's "good for me" to read it - a bit like castor oil...

Conall
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Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by Conall » Sat Sep 29, 2018 8:14 am

prawnheed wrote:
Sat Sep 29, 2018 1:24 am
I’ve said this before, but I cannot stop myself from saying again how much I like these pieces played on the cello (whichever form) and how unsatisfying I find them for guitar. Beautiful rich textures vs plinky plonky.
I think we've had this discussion before.

The guitar will never have the resonance, power or expressive ability of the cello - but at least we can play the chordal movements pretty convincingly (especially the preludes of the 1st & 4th). In my opinion it also helps to play on an extended range guitar in order to play at the original piich or close to it (but Eb major of suite 4 is, predictably, pretty horrible - E is better on guitar if still very difficult. I intend to try it in D on an 11 string).

gilles T
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Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by gilles T » Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:11 am

hello,

Any guitarist who wishes to dig in a deeper understanding of the cello suite should try my latest experiment, which consists in playing them on a tenor ukulele tuned in fifths, just like Mr Dainel Estrem does so well — check his YT videos. There, you can play with the actual cello fingerings and the phrasing becomes clear as day, because each note has a precise location on the neck, and the use of open strings is reduced to a minimum. Assuming you are emulating a cello tuning at the actual pitch (CGDA), but one octave higher, you can thus hear this music precisely as it is intended to sound.
As for me, a very good exercice to increase the ear training, and an unorthodox but convincing way to be "historically informed".
Regards.

prawnheed

Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by prawnheed » Sat Sep 29, 2018 11:26 am

gilles T wrote:
Sat Sep 29, 2018 9:11 am
hello,

..., you can thus hear this music precisely as it is intended to sound.
..
Whilst I admit it is hard to be sure about Bach's intentions, I find it very hard to believe he intended it to sound anything like it does on a Uke.

prawnheed

Re: Tempo in Cello Suites

Post by prawnheed » Sat Sep 29, 2018 12:17 pm

Conall wrote:
Sat Sep 29, 2018 8:14 am
prawnheed wrote:
Sat Sep 29, 2018 1:24 am
I’ve said this before, but I cannot stop myself from saying again how much I like these pieces played on the cello (whichever form) and how unsatisfying I find them for guitar. Beautiful rich textures vs plinky plonky.
I think we've had this discussion before.

The guitar will never have the resonance, power or expressive ability of the cello - but at least we can play the chordal movements pretty convincingly (especially the preludes of the 1st & 4th). In my opinion it also helps to play on an extended range guitar in order to play at the original piich or close to it (but Eb major of suite 4 is, predictably, pretty horrible - E is better on guitar if still very difficult. I intend to try it in D on an 11 string).
The Quechua language is interesting in the respect that there are two forms of the first person plural. There is an inclusive "we". and an exclusive "we" which does not encompass the person being addressed. I assume you are using the latter.

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